University Assistant (Prae Doc) - marine microbial ecology: Austria

The University of Vienna  seeks to fill the position as soon as possible of a University Assistant (prae doc) at the Department of Limnology and Bio-Oceanography.

Duration of employment: 4 year/s

Job Description: PhD position on the biogeochemistry and microbial ecology of iron-limited versus iron-replete oceanic waters.

Within the Microbial Oceanography working group at the Dept. Limnology and Bio-Oceanography at the University of Vienna, a PhD position in marine microbial ecology is available for a period of three years. The successful applicant could start from 1 October, 2018 onward but not later than January 2019.
Microorganisms account for a very large part of the total biomass of life in the ocean, driving marine biogeochemical cycles. To understand how marine ecosystems will respond to climate change we must first understand the underlying mechanisms structuring microbial communities. The majority of the biogeochemistry and microbial ecology research has been conducted in areas of the ocean considered ‘normal’ (e.g. temperate and subtropical waters), where primary production is not limited by trace metal availability. However, around 30% of the oceanic surface waters lacks specific trace metals (coined High Nutrient Low Chlorophyll, HNLC, regions; e.g. sub-Antarctic waters). Since trace metals limitation inhibits the production of organic matter by photosynthetic organisms, the question is how does the biogeochemistry and microbial ecology of iron-limited waters compare to the iron-replete oceanic waters. To investigate this question, this PhD project will use samples collected from the Munida Microbial Observatory Times Series (MOTS), located at the Subtropical Frontal Zone – a boundary between ‘normal’ and HNLC ocean regions in the South Pacific Ocean. Within the PhD project, comparison should be made between the potential and the realized gene expression in the subtropical and the HNLC sub-Antarctic waters collected over two years. For that, metagenomics and metaproteomic approaches should reveal the unique properties that enable marine microbes to thrive in HNLC environments and which microbes are the main drivers of these processes.


  • Applicants should hold a Diploma or Master in a discipline of relevance for the research project.
  • Experience in marine/aquatic microbial ecology and the application of molecular tools in aquatic ecology as well as good English language skills are required.
  • Specific experience with metagenomic and metaproteomic approaches as well as in bioinformatics is an advantage.
  • The main criterion for selection will be the research potential of the applicant.

Further information

For further information on the project contact Federico Baltar (Email:, cell phone: +43 (0)-6602013440.
See also Microbial Oceanography Lab for information about the research group and its ongoing research.

Further details
Share this opportunity